Actor Mark Reed Fights For Native Rights In SAG
The following is a condensed version of a letter Screen Actors Guild President and actress Melissa Gilbert e-mailed to Mark following his presentation to the Committee.
September 13th, 2005
“Dear Mark – Thank you so much for your presentation yesterday and even more, for your patience an tenacity dealing with the issue.
“I’m not going to waste another second of your time and tell you straight out, that the committee voted not to recommend your proposal to the Board. There are a myriad of reasons we chose to do this:”
No 1. - We do no have the resources needed to support another committee at this time. There is no way for the Guild to take this on right now.
No. 2. – The committee had a great deal of concern that the establishment of a “stand alone committee” for Native Americans would have a snowball effect. Filipino men are already asking for a stand alone separate from the EEOC and Asian/Pacific Islanders.
No 3. – We didn’t feel your goals for the committee were specific nor tangible enough in any way. My suggestion is that you be prepared with a written outline of definite, specific, realistic goals for this committee.
It would be extremely helpful to have such a request made by you and other Native American performers in a small group – and most important to have the Board hear from members who are recognizable.
(In the letter, financial problems are cited over and over. The Board also recommends hearing from “recognizable actors”. I take it Ms. Gilbert is referring to prominent Native actors such as Wes Studi, Irene Bedard, Floyd Westerman, etc.)
“Finally, the entire committee wants to express their appreciation for your passion and dedication to this matter, I personally thank you. I also want you to know that you have accomplished a great deal for your fellow Native American performers and you’ve managed to do it without a committee. You should be proud.
“So you know, the EEOC, (especially David Hall) is absolutely committed to supporting you in any future programs or ideas you may have and I will make sure the future president keeps and eye on you, whomever he or she may be.
“I wish you all the best,
Here is Mark’s response to Melissa’s letter
Thank you for your letter and for calling the President's Committee to this issue.
At the meeting I was repeatedly asked what the American Indian Committee would do. That was not the issue. The issue is why an American Indian Committee is needed in the first place.
That question was answered when I first proposed the resolution. The need for an American Indian Committee was exacerbated when SAG arbitrarily disbanded the Native American Sub committee a year ago.
( By the way, that subcommittee cost only the space of a meeting room, coffee and cookies provided for the meeting. A successor committee projects to cost no more than that.)
The mission of the American Indian Committee will be the same as its banned predecessor; to achieve what the Industry promised---the promise of true and fair representation of American Indians.
That's the goal of the American Indian Committee.
To be fair to all, especially to the cynics, remember I proposed a new concept to SAG; a sunset clause so that once the committee's mission gains enough traction that the committee itself is no longer needed, it could be reduced or dissolved.
That's why, for the first time in SAG issues, I believe, I included a sunset clause in the concept. Think how much money the sunset clause could save SAG if applied to committees across the board.
It also makes the possibility of multitudes of 'stand-alones' and Snowball Effects unlikely.
I appreciate your advising me to gather other American Indians from the industry into an advocacy group. That will be done.
Your friendship---and David Hall's friendship---are valuable to me at this moment and I thank you.
Best wishes to you, and thank you for what you've done for SAG and for us in this project.
I wish you the best also.
BTW - Voting ballots are due Friday, September 23rd for SAG candidates and Mark’s name is on the ballot.
NATIVE UNITY - A place for Native American Peoples to solidify their tribes to make a positive impact on the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of American society and a place for non-Natives to better understand the ways of the American Indian.
For news and information on Native American and First Nations actors, go to Annie's site at www.NativeCelebs.com and follow the threads.